China says trade war with US will only bring disaster

Beijing steps up criticism of Trump's metal tariffs

BEIJING: Any trade war with the US will only bring disaster to the world economy, Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said yesterday, as Beijing stepped up criticism of metal tariffs by Washington amid fears it could shatter global growth.

After pressure from allies, the US has opened the way for more exemptions from tariffs of 25 per cent on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminium that US President Donald Trump set last week.

On Saturday, the European Union and Japan urged the US to grant them exemptions from metal import tariffs, with Tokyo calling for "calm-headed behaviour".

But the target of Mr Trump's ire is China, whose capacity expansions have helped add to global surpluses of steel.

China has repeatedly vowed to defend its "legitimate rights and interests" if targeted by US trade actions.

Mr Zhong, speaking on the sidelines of China's annual session of Parliament, said China does not want a trade war and will not initiate one.

"There are no winners in a trade war," Mr Zhong said. "It will only bring disaster to China and the US and the world."

Mr Trump's announcement on tariffs underlined concerns about rising US protectionism, which has sparked bouts of turmoil in global financial markets over the past year.

China's metals industry issued the country's most explicit threat yet in the row, urging the government to retaliate by targeting US coal - a sector central to Mr Trump's political base and his election pledge to restore US industries and blue-collar jobs.


Trade tensions between China and the US have risen since Mr Trump took office.

China accounts for only a small fraction of US steel imports, but its massive industrial expansion has helped create a global glut of steel that has lowered prices.

Mr Trump believes the tariffs will safeguard American jobs, though many economists say the impact of price increases for users of steel and aluminium, such as the auto and oil industries, will destroy more jobs than curbs on imports create. - REUTERS